US: A fleet of 16 autonomous underwater gliders will be sent off to explore the world’s oceans as part of an ambitious research project by Rutgers University researchers in New Jersey. Part of the Challenger Glider Mission Project, the underwater drones, each 2.2 m long, will cruise the oceans at a rather modest speed of 35 km per day gathering data about the current state of the oceans. Moving forward following a tooth-shaped gliding trajectory, the unmanned submarines will rely solely on energy from buoyancy changes to move forward. The drones are based on the Webb Slocum glider platform developed by the American company Teledyne. Each of the gliders will be equipped with a GPS receiver together with an altitude sensor, depth sensor and an altimeter for precise navigation. Every time the unmanned submarine surfaces, it will send data to the operators via a telecommunications link provided by Iridium satellites. “We're thrilled to be associated with the project, and excited to provide connectivity via the Iridium satellite network for this endeavor,” said David Wigglesworth, the vice president and general manager of Iridium.
Each glider will be continuously collecting data about the oceans’ temperature, salinity and currents. The information will be used to improve existing ocean models, and as a result, enhance weather and climate forecast accuracy. Researchers will also try to monitor phytoplankton around the vehicles using sustainable optic sensors that require particularly low amounts of power and can withstand extremely harsh sea conditions.
Source: Eandt theiet